Book Review : Dead until Dark

On July 31, 2010 by Aimee

Yeah, yeah, yeah … I’m way late to the game. But I don’t have HBO and wasn’t, honestly, all that interested in vampire stories. In all the stuff I’ve written, I only have a vamp in one story … so you can see, it’s not my ‘area’.

Anyway … every time I ask for suggestions on a book, I get the ‘You’ve got to read the Sookie Stackhouse series” also known as True Blood from HBO … or rather the tv show is based on the books (way way cool!).

And so, the other day, as I stood in line to buy Hunger Games, there was Dead until Dark by Charlaine Harris and I picked it up figuring I “might as well get on with it already”.

I’ll admit, I was not sucked into the first couple of chapters. Not sure why, but it was slow going … and then it shot off like a rocket ship. Sure there is all sorts of stuff in it that are my writing pet-peeves and elements of style that as a budding writer myself I’m told to never to do … ever, ever, ever. Can I just repeat that I’m told never to do these things? :) But I digress.

And the setting in Louisiana, I couldn’t get a handle on the names and the way people were responding to each other, but as the story progressed and I learned the characters more, I found I understood them. Didn’t mean I always liked them.

For example, I’m Type A personality, go-go-go, competitive and always looking for the next opportunity. Sookie is ‘happy’ in her job as a waitress. If that’s where I’d been with my personality, I’d have owned the bar in a matter of years. I don’t understand a lack of “drive” very well … which is probably why most of my characters are a bit competitive and some very aggressive. Sookie’s got ‘issues’ that I can’t relate to as well — paranormal issues. But, of course thats the kind of stuff I love to read about and write about and I love how she deals with them, adjusts to them.

There are a few ‘points’ made in the book that I wish weren’t there. I cannot stand story lines or arcs that involved the molestation of children. No, it’s not a big part of this book, but it is an element of back story and I wish it wasn’t. These are the kinds of things that as a writer, they help make the personalities of our characters and it’s a lot easier to write than to read (at least for me).

I think it’s funny how she’s played the vampire as virus method to mainstreaming. Absolutely hilarious. So many scenes I had to laugh at because I could imagine them playing out in my mind.

Guess that’s why this one got picked up for tv. :)

So yes, despite my mostly-stay-away-from-vampires philosophy, it was a great read and I will likely, pick up another. :)

6 Responses to “Book Review : Dead until Dark”

  • I know what you mean about the writing rules. I took about a six month reading break while editing Shadow Cat. When I emerged from my hole and all the critiques, I hit the shelves again. I’ve not found one single author (debut or multi-published) who falls all the rules. Maybe I’m just not well-read enough, I don’t know. I think the key is telling a story with a voice that draws a reader, and the rules be damned. I still think the lines need to flow well–one into the other as not to trip up the reader, but the basic rules shouldn’t stifle the voice.

    Just my 2cents. :)

    I hope you like The Hunger Games, cause my daughter and I absolutely loved it! After reading it, I ordered Catching Fire the same day. Now we’re both waiting for Mockingjay. Though I haven’t read it, my daughter said Shiver is up there with Hunger Games, and she’s looking forward to her copy of Linger to arrive. One other book she recommends is City of Bones, which is my next read.

  • I agree, Reena, but I also think that some rules should be there to encourage readers to write ‘properly’ — however that means. I too can overlook some issues (though not all) if the story compels me to move forward. I’ve given up on a number of books though because they both don’t compel me and the writing is ‘all broken rules’ so not worth it. :)

    I’ve heard of City of Bones … let me know how it is!

  • Glad you liked Sookie enough to overlook Charlaine’s writing gaffes. Me, I don’t care. If the story sucks me in, I never notice the gaffes…though this is this one sentence of Charlaine’s during a pivotal scene that she blew by saying, “And then he kissed me.” I can forgive starting a sentence off with “And” but only if it makes sense.

    Hunger Games is a must. It almost had a Colleen Atwood feel to it. I read Shiver but didn’t like it nearly as much. It nearly lost me early on but I hung in there and by the 2/3 mark or so was hooked. Shiver is definitely what I’d call more traditional YA than Hunger Games. I’m eyeballing Linger but may wait for it to come out in paperback.

  • If my son would get on with his reading, I’d have Hunger Games back in my hands by now. LOL Instead, I’m reading this other book, by an unnamed writer on the West Coast. ;) Which should I try to finish first? ;)

  • Sookie Stackhouse is one of those characters who either irritates the hell outta you, or you adore her to bits. I actually like that the book sounds as though it’s been written by someone incredible dense, it makes the pov more believable. However, as the last one I read was number 8 in the series, Dead until Dawn seems eons away. Have you watched True Blood, Aimee? It deviates somewhat from the novels–season two most definitely does. There was only one orgy I recall in the second book–orgies happened weekly in the tv series. But back to the book: I havne’t read the latest tales and escapades of Ms Stackhouse but I am told there are major inconsistencies and plot booboos which have shied me away from picking them up. Also the opening chapters of book 8 sounded almost as though they’d been written by a different hand as it failed to sound like Sookie’s voice–which threw me until Sookie’s true dimness came back to call. The books are pretty badly written, without a doubt, but there is no denying the appealing wackiness of their content. It’s this, I believe, which has the readers returning for more :).

  • Nope, not a True Blood watcher, though I have plans to check it out … eventually. :) I plan to get the next book in the series … eventually too. :)